Canadian Museum of History

What’s on at museums in Ottawa

The Ottawa area’s many museums offer rich and entertaining experiences all year round! With programming for all ages, fascinating special exhibits and lovely boutiques, you’re sure to find the right fit for you and your family. Here’s our handy guide to what you can expect at the many museums in Canada’s capital.

 

Bytown Museum

Hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Ticketing: Walk-ins welcome.

Discover Ottawa’s rich cultural heritage at the Bytown Museum, located along the first eight locks of the Rideau Canal. Housed in Ottawa’s oldest stone building, this community museum presents the city’s history from its time as a lumber town to its modern present. A free, six-language audio guide can be downloaded on the museum website. A small café offers food and beverages.

National Gallery of Canada 

Hours: Daily, 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; Thursdays until 8:00 p.m.

Ticketing: Timed advanced reservations, including for free admission period on Thursdays between 5-8:00 p.m.; admission on site also available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Art lovers can access almost the entire National Gallery of Canada, including the Canadian and Indigenous Galleries, European and American Galleries, Contemporary Galleries and special exhibits. General admission is free for children under 11 and free activities are offered for kids and families. The on-site coffee shop is open during museum hours, and the outdoor Tavern at the Gallery is open 11:00 a.m. until late (weather dependent).

Canadian Museum of Nature

Hours: Daily, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; Thursdays until 7:00 p.m.;

Ticketing: Timed advanced reservation recommended, including for free admission period on Thursdays between 4-7:00 p.m.); admission on site also available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

The permanent galleries at the Canadian Museum of Nature are open to visitors, including the impressive displays of dinosaurs, mammals, birds, the Arctic, live owls (outdoors) and more. You can also enjoy the enormous representation of the Earth hanging in the Atrium. The Nature Café is open. Some high-touch areas and amenities may be closed.

Canadian Museum of History and Canadian Children’s Museum

Hours: Daily, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; Thursday until 7:00 p.m.

Ticketing: Timed advanced reservations, including for free admission period on Thursdays between 5-7:00 p.m.; admission on site also available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Much of the Canadian Museum of History and the Canadian Children’s Museum is open to visitors, including the Grand Hall, the Canadian History Hall, First Peoples Hall, CINÉ+ and special exhibitions. The Second Cup coffee shop and the Panorama Café (including its outdoor terrace) are open.

Canadian War Museum

Hours: Daily, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; Thursday until 7:00 p.m..

Ticketing: Timed advanced reservations, including for free admission period on Thursdays between 5-7:00 p.m.; admission on site also available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Explore the Canadian War Museum’s permanent spaces, including the Canadian Experience Galleries, the Royal Canadian Legion Hall of Honour, the LeBreton Gallery and the Memorial Hall, as well as special exhibitions. . The Café and dining area are open.

Canada Aviation and Space Museum

Current hours: Thursday to Monday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Ticketing: Timed advanced reservation recommended, including for daily free admission period (4:00-5:00 p.m.); admission on site also available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Most of the Canada Aviation and Space Museum is currently accessible, including the entire world-renowned collection of aircraft, as well as Engine Alley and the Canada in Space exhibition. Certain spaces and interactive elements may be inaccessible. The on-site café is open and picnic areas are available.

Canada Agriculture and Food Museum

Current hours: Daily, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Ticketing: Timed advanced reservation strongly recommended, including for daily free admission period (4:00-5:00 p.m.); admission on site also available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Ottawa’s working farm within the city highlights Canada’s agricultural heritage, including plants and animals. Most of the CanadaAgricultureand Food Museum’s indoor and outdoor exhibits, barns and viewing areas are open. Some interactive elements may be inaccessible. Picnic areas are available.

Canada Science and Technology Museum

Current hours: Daily, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Ticketing: Timed advanced reservation strongly recommended, including for daily free admission period (4:00-5:00 p.m.); admission on site also available on a first-come, first-served basis..

Visitors at the Canada Science and Technology Museum can enjoy the expansive indoor and outdoor spaces as well as the live demonstrations on the demo stage. Most exhibitions and collections are accessible, including ZOOOM (Children’s Innovation Zone) and the Crazy Kitchen. Some high touch areas such as Exploratek may be innaccessible. The on-site café is open and picnic areas are available.

Diefenbunker Museum

Current hours: Wednesday to Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Ticketing:  Timed advanced reservation strongly recommended; in-person admission on a first-come, first-serve basis.

The Diefenbunker Museum, one of the region’s most unique attractions, is a Cold War-era underground bunker located in the west end of Ottawa. Join a guided tour  or explore the museum on your own by downloading the museum’s free, audio guide (bring earphones). On select evenings, you can also test your skills in the world’s largest escape room—Escape the Diefenbunker (advanced booking required).

Ottawa Art Gallery

Hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; Thursday until 9:00 p.m. 

Ticketing: Walk-ins welcome; both entrances (10 Daly and 50 Mackenzie King Bridge) are open.

The always free and fully accessible Ottawa Art Gallery is a large and modern space located in the Downtown Rideau area, adjacent to the ByWard Market neighbourhood. Browse the exhibits to see works of art that represent the region’s artistic past and present, as well as Indigenous art and Group of Seven masterpieces. The Jackson Café is currently closed.

Vanier Museopark

Hours: Monday to Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. 

Ticketing: Free visit of the temporary exhibit.

While the Vanier Museopark is undergoing major renovations, visitors can visit the temporary exhibit on the universe of Captain Acadia, a fictional comic book character created by Studios Bédécomics. Thanks to his supernatural powers, he protects the Earth from the forces of evil and at the same time, protects the Francophone and Acadian communities from these threats. (In fall 2022, the museum will present a new permanent exhibit on the Vanier neighbourhood and its French connections.)

City museums and historic sites

City of Ottawa museum and historic sites present the region’s culture and heritage. Some are seasonal and others may be reopening. Verify schedules for individual sites to confirm.

Virtual options

You can experience these sites, along with many others, from anywhere at any time through virtual tours, exhibitions, activities and performances.

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